What to know about the growing demand for mental health care

‘People are struggling to figure out where to start’

About one in five American adults suffer from a mental illness in any given year, and kids also suffer. But despite a growing demand for mental health services, many struggle to get an appointment.

This is a real problem. We know that more people are experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. In the emergency department, we’re seeing more people reaching a crisis stage simply because they can’t get in to see anyone for help.

Across the United States, demand for mental health treatment is growing.

“People are struggling to figure out where to start,” said Licensed Therapist Jody Baumstein. “What kind of providers exist? What kind of services exists? And, how do you go about finding one?”

The Association of American Medical Colleges says there aren’t nearly enough mental health providers to meet the demand of the nation’s growing population.

A 2018 analysis showed the workforce of psychiatrists was shrinking. And could drop to a projected low of as many as 31,000 psychiatrists in just two years.

To find a potential therapist, pull up online directories which list providers in your area. Some employers may offer free short-term mental health benefits.

Check with private providers on whether they have clinical interns who can help. If you’re going through an insurance provider, go over options with them.

“They might reimburse you for a portion of the costs to see an out-of-network provider,” Jody Baumstein said.

Talk to your primary care provider or your child’s pediatrician. They may have insight into clinicians in your community and can refer you. You can also talk to your child’s school. There may be help available there.

Something else to consider is online virtual therapy visits. In many cases, scheduling and offering a therapist that fits specific criteria that are important to you might be more convenient. The downside is that not all insurances cover these telemedicine services.

Finally, get on a waiting list if you can’t get an appointment immediately.

If you have to wait for an appointment, lean on people who care about you and talk openly about what you’re going through, and don’t forget the suicide and crisis hotline at 988, it’s available 24 hours a day.

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.